Where Mindfulness Meets Technology

Are the technologies we use actually improving our lives?


Published:

Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral. — Kranzberg’s First Law of Technology

Before becoming a writer, the time I spent in front of a screen was minimal. Once a day and not even every day, I checked email. Occasionally I would catch a re-run of a favorite sitcom on Hulu and even less often than that I would order something online. I don’t have a cell phone or TV. I am not on Facebook.

With the start of my new pursuit, however, I found myself at my computer regularly and with this regularity came the opening of a door that I did not even know existed. Each time I sat down to write, a growing and disturbing trend began to reveal itself. Suddenly I was compelled to check my email multiple times, sometimes even within just a few minutes. The weather forecast became of the utmost importance, even though nothing I, nor anyone in my family was doing, hinged on the ten-day forecast.

I would find myself needing to check all kinds of things before I began to work, and the list of things I needed to check began to grow. I justified the TED talks as being worthwhile and a well-earned reward for my hard work, though even that became suspect as I started to watch a talk just to gear up to write. Over time these diversions took up more and more of the time I had painstakingly carved out for writing. I made rules. Then I broke them. I unplugged the modem so as to be less tempted. This helped some, but not enough.

Something had me. Despite my values and lifestyle choices, I felt sucked in and unable to break free. It was an itch I had to scratch. A craving that had to be satisfied. I felt addicted. And I felt ashamed. How could I have fallen prey to this given all that I know and all that I stand for? I started to joke with people that I was going to wind up like the Supersize Me guy, who started out researching the impact fast food has on the body by eating exclusively at McDonalds for a month. A short way into his experiment his doctor implored him to stop because his health numbers were that bad. I felt like the same thing was happening to me. Only for me it wasn’t junk food delivered by a fast food outlet, it was a junk life as delivered by the screen.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of screen use, it’s hard not to notice that it is changing us. That, in fact, we are in very uncharted waters when it comes to understanding the impact technology is having on what it means to be human. At a fundamental and often unnoticed level, who we are and how we are living is being dramatically reshaped through the time we spend in front of a screen. What it means to be human is being redesigned, reworked and renegotiated. My kids tell me that this is the way it is now.

Being present moment to moment without judgment is the definition Jon Kabat-Zinn, of The Mindfulness Based Stress-Reduction Center, gives to the art and practice of mindfulness; the learning of how to be here now. It is a way of observing yourself as you move though your day, doing what you are doing, thinking what you are thinking, and feeling what you are feeling. Being mindful requires your attention and your willingness to learn to be with things as they are. It is through that orientation that you are in the best position to see clearly the motivations and the consequences of the choices you make each and every day.

This practice has the power to serve as an antidote to our unconscious, habituated and addictive uses of technology. It is a vehicle for learning how to recognize and own the true consequences of the choices we make. Many of us are so caught up in keeping up with the technologies being offered that we have not noticed what it is costing us. Mindfulness encourages us to look directly at our habits and choices to see what is actually there. It helps us to recognize whether or not what we are doing is truly working for us. It helps us to answer the question: Are the technologies and the way we are using them actually improving our lives?

So, it was only natural, though belated, that I turned to mindfulness to try and figure out what was happening to me. I began first by noticing my body. What I discovered was that after a certain amount of time writing, I needed a break. I did not need another screen image, but time to get up, walk around, get something to eat or drink, go outside. I learned that part of the itch was my body’s way of telling me it needed something. And that something was nothing any screen could provide. Being mindful of physical sensations and a willingness to act on them provided one shift.

Then I began to notice what was happening at a deeper level. I saw that all of the diversions were my attempt to numb out to a startling and profound truth: I was afraid. I had doubts about my ability to go for something I have wanted to do my whole life. It was so much easier to get involved in the characters on the screen than it was to work on my own character. I am deeply humbled and sobered by a force that has the ability to exert this level of power over my values and dreams. It seems to me that this is very worthy of all of our attentions and that it requires a kind of noticing on our parts that goes beyond rules, rights, wrongs, upgrades and evites.

Our ability to be present to how we use technology may be the only thing strong enough for us to get clear about the impact it is having on us. This is a tremendous challenge and a potent opportunity for us to discern for ourselves what matters most and how we choose to live. Without this effort we may wake up one day to find that all of our time spent in the world of the screens has left our real lives noticeably uninhabited and as two dimensional as the hardware in front of us.

And if all else fails, maybe you will find yourself in the position I am currently in with having a monitor with no speakers. These days I find myself in no rush to get this fixed as the lack of access has gone a long way in helping me to reclaim my life.

Susan McNamara, MA, CHHC, is a certified holistic health counselor who also holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Susan teaches at Westfield State University and consults with families interested in making conscious choices regarding technology use in their homes. She can be reached at (413) 527-2230 or by email at thefarmatavalon@hotmail.com.

See also:
Fighting An Invisible Enemy In Our High-Tech World
The 100% Natural Solution

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

October 22, 2019

The morning gets a glorious sendoff from the Leo Moon’s sextile to Mars. The invigorating aspect has a heartening effect and sets the tone for a fruitful and enjoyable day. Excitement and anticipation are shared with partners and co-workers. Folks tend…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

October 2019

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

A beautiful collection of messages from Jeshua Ben Joseph (Jesus) that will transform your life, as it did his. Coming together to study these teachings, to ponder, to savor, to deepen our...

Cost: $25 per class

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
130 Massapoag Avenue
Sharon, MA  02067
View map »


Sponsor: Heart and Soul Holistic
Telephone: 781-258-9942
Contact Name: Barbara Ann Strassman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Are you considering, going through or recovering from divorce? Join us at our free Daytime Divorce Boot Camp, and we’ll help you get into shape! In response to requests from people...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
180 Wells Avenue
Suite 300
Newton, MA  02459
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Free Evidence-Based Holistic Health Education Program at Wilbraham Senior Center The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation), created and instructed by Michelle...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Are you separated, divorced, considering divorce, or in the process of divorce? Please join us for a special evening intended to help you and your family have a smooth and easy transition through...

Cost: Free

Where:
Burns & Levinson
1 Citizens Plaza
Suite 1100
Providence, RI  02903
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

October 23 & 30, 2019, 7–9pm Instructor: Judith A. Swack, Ph.D. Register at http://www.newtoncommunityed.org Do you have a fear of flying, heights, public speaking or other...

Where:
Needham, MA


Sponsor: Healing from the Body Level Up
Telephone: (800) 310-6549 / (781) 444-6940
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

It's everyone's favorite night! Eat, drink, laugh, dance, connect and meet providers! Women's health seminars  Mini spa treatments  All-natural...

Cost: Free

Where:
Groton Wellness
493-495 Main Street
Groton, MA  01450
View map »


Sponsor: Groton Wellness
Telephone: 978-449-9919
Website »

More information

Are you separated or divorced, considering divorce, or in the process of divorce? Join us at our free workshop to learn how to plan for your finances during divorce discussions and afterward....

Cost: Free

Where:
Kellem Mahoney Family Law & Mediation Group
100 Recreation Park Drive
Suite 201
Hingham, MA  02043
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Attend a brand new class on awaking and accessing your authentic self! We are brought up in a world where it is difficult to know how to connect to, and express our whole and authentic selves....

Cost: $45

Where:
The Graduate Institute
171 Amity Rd
Bethany, CT  06524-3435
View map »


Sponsor: The Graduate Institute
Telephone: 203-874-4252
Contact Name: The Graduate Institute
Website »

More information

Prana Vidya is a powerful Yogic technique, based on scientific principles, that helps us connect to the most fundamental, throbbing energy of the cosmos. The system uses the concept of Chakras, to...

Cost: $40 before Oct 22 ($45 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

We are proud to welcome Swami Maheshananada Saraswati, a world- renowned Yogi to Boston after 10 years.  Swami Mahesh is a wandering yogi from India. He has a degree in engineering and a...

Where:
SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street
Suite 108B
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“Consciousness does not just passively reflect the objective material world; it plays an active role in creating reality itself.” —Stanislav Grof MD, from The Holotropic Mind...

Cost: $150. $175 after October 19

Where:
Unity Somerville
6 William Street
Somerville, MA  02144
View map »


Sponsor: Allen Howell, M.Ed. LMHC
Website »

More information

October 26th and 27th Deepen your knowledge and practice of Reiki. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (Master-Teacher) This two-day Level II Training enhances your...

Cost: $250

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Prana is the universal life force, the essence of all motion, and the basis of all manifestation in the Cosmos. It is the essence of life and existence itself. The yogis and the Seers have...

Cost: $45 before 10/22 ($50 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Yoga is a science of total health and harmony. The science of Yoga is dedicated to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing of mankind. A proper approach to yoga brings...

Cost: $40 before 10/22 ($45 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

We are excited in the midst of our favorite holiday season! Join us for an evening workshop preparing your own take home potion and lotions. As we prepare for the close of the next harvest and...

Cost: $30 pre-reg. or $35 at the door

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers — Heaven and Earth
68 Stile Rd.
Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Mount Kailash, the Crown Chakra of the Earth, the abode of Lord Shiva and the Holiest pilgrimage for Hindus! Located at 18,000ft in High Himalayas, Mt Kailash is as real as it is mythical and...

Cost: pay-what-you-want ($20 recommended)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

October 26–27 Weekend workshop with David Dalton, founder of Delta Gardens. Explore the art of vibrational flower and gem essence healing with a master crafter of essences. Email...

Cost: $360

Where:
Roots to Wings
Newbury, MA


Telephone: (603) 601-6929
Website »

More information

October 26–27 Saturday 9:30–10 am registration, 10 am–5 pm class Sunday 10 am–5 pm class This practitioner training takes place over 2 days and offers...

Cost: Course Fee: $450; Recalibration Appointment: $333

Where:
Spirit Dancer Books & Gifts
125 South Winooski Ave
Burlington, VT  05401
View map »


Telephone: 617-366-6042
Website »

More information

With Nicci Goot Build a foundation of essential virtues for developing altruism, compassion and loving kindness for living a life of harmony and joy. 4 session-program

Where:
State of Grace Yoga
104 E. Hartford Avenue, Unit A
Uxbridge, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

We are proud to welcome Swami Maheshananada Saraswati, a world- renowned Yogi to Boston after 10 years.  Swami Mahesh is a wandering yogi from India. He has a degree in engineering and a...

Where:
SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street
Suite 108B
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: SOHUM Yoga and Meditation Studio
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags